Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Are you a healthy or an unhealthy writer?

It has to be said that writing can take a lot out of you. It's not just an emotional roller coaster full of ups and downs, acceptances and rejections, possible leads, dead ends. There never seems to be an equilibrium - well there doesn't seem to be when it comes to my writing anyway! There are moments filled with self doubt and gnashing of teeth - paricularly when the third (or more) rejection comes through the door on the same day or week, as has happened to me on serveral occassions. You wonder if you're ever going to get anything published. You ask yourself time and time again why, why, oh why do I keep getting all of these rejections? You study the market, read the short stories, read the magazines until you are at saturation point. You stare and stare at the page devouring every word,every sentence. You dissect the stories piece by piece, building a jigsaw and hoping that you can find out the secrets hidden deep within their depths as to why these particular stories were published and yours were not.

You stare and stare, tearing your hair out, rubbing your eyes until they are sore and your vision is blurred. But still you can't see. You just don't get it. What is it? you scream - furious with yourself at your inabilty to find out the secret of successful, published writers and furious with them for making it through when you have not. You berate yourself  for your stupidity and writing ineptitde - why can they do it and you cannot. You really can drive yourself mad with frustration and getting angry with yourself and other writers. It's so damaging to our creativity to behave and think in this destructive manner.

The publishing world, magazine editors, are not out to get you or ignore you. They are not there to make your life difficult and miserable. They are a business and so are you. You need to get your head in gear and act like the business person you are. You have to learn to seperate your creative side from your business side. It's the only way to stop yourself from being an unhealthy writer and letting your insecurites about your abilities to get published from infecting your creativity and rendering it inert.

It's also a physical thing. We coup ourselves up, hunched over a desk for hours on end, staring at a computer screen. And the stress of getting your work out there - particularly if you have a deadline - can be horrible. We tend to lose sight of the reasons we started to write in the first place: for me it was because I had a love of words and reading that turned slowly into a love of writing. It's the process of conjuring up ideas in my head and translating them onto the page. Where do these ideas come from ? I don't know, they just appear in mid air sometimes, like magic, conjured up from the ether. The whole process fascinates me -  how imaginations that began in my brain after a lot of hard work become stories that may be published.

Turn yourself into a healthy writer by banishing those unhealthy attitudes that stop you from writing and attaining your goals. Get out from behind your desk and go for a walk in the fresh air - the exercise will do your brain and body so much good - your creativity will be boosted. And if you get rejection after rejection understand that that is just part of the process and embrace it. You won't get rejections forever, no matter how much it feels like it!

Julie xx


Fee said...

Oh Julie,

You will get there. The market is hard to get into but once you have done it you will be so proud of yourelf. You know you are a good writer and no matter what someone out there is reading your work before the letter declining it is sent to you.

Try sending some of your short stories out to competitions. This may help you feel better.

Best wishes and hang on in there.


klahanie said...

Hi Julie,
You raise some interesting points.
As I have mentioned to you before, my writing comes from a different perspective. I have no pressure and perhaps that is the key for me. Like you, I use positive distractions, which, in my case, are inspiration to whatever I end up writing.
Always fascinated by what you write and the ongoing endeavours in your writing career.
I've no doubt, that your useful advice will be of great benefit to aspiring writers; no matter their reason for writing.
With respect and kindness, your way, Gary x

Diane Perry said...

Absolutley right Julie, I am going to remain positive, now matter how many rejections or shall we say declined offers I get!

I am starting to believe that we sometimes try to put a square peg in a round hole, in that I mean our product is more than likely ok, but it's finding the right place to put it.
Best wishes

Julie P said...

Thanks, Fee

This is a positive post about no matter what your struggles and worries are about rejections you can get published - it just takes time and effort. Having already had one of my short stories published in Australia I know I can do it - it isn't impossible. And having had several articles accepted and published now, I know I'm on the right track. So hopefully anyone reading this post will be encouraged to have a go themselves and keep writing and sending their work out there, always learning from the pieces they have rejected and improving their writing so they are always moving forward. The worst things writers can do is get themselves into a rut and get stuck - keep pushing forward and you will get there.

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Gary

I was just thinking about writers, particularly new ones, who are trying to get their work published but feeling downhearted and wondering why they weren't making progress. As you know writing can be such an isolated hobby/occupation and it's so easy for writers to think that it's only them who are going through the rejection process and that other writers have much more success than they do - so they think that must nean they aren't good writers and so they give up.

I think success means different things to different writers: some writers might see success as finishing a novel or poem, while for others it's seeing their work in print - both are valid and successful in their own right.

Thank you for your continual support as ever

Julie xx

Julie P said...

It's the only way to go, Di! If we let rejections worry us they can stop us from writing - and that would be a shame.

What one editor returns, unwanted, another one might snap up, so it's always worth looking at declined pieces, adapting them and sending them out again elsewhere. We've both had experiences of that and know that sometimes it works!

It is a case of finding the right shaped 'hole' for our work - you're right! I think my short stories are square and the magazines are round! But I'm working on them and I know I can and will do it - might take me some time but I'm taking note of and courage from the story of the tortoise and the hare!

Keep going and the best of luck

Julie xx

Carole Anne Carr said...

Julie, is you are offering a reward for the most unhealthy writer, then I know I've won! How I wish I could complete these books whilst exercising. :0)
Hugs and love xxx

Julie P said...

Oh dear, Carole! I know how you feel! So much to write and edit but never enough time. I'm lucky in that I'm able to get out in the day in between bouts of writing as I have to walk up and down to school (15 mins walk each way and up a short but steep hill. It can be frustrating when I'm in the middle of writing but I know I'd never get any exercise otherwise.

If I'm really busy with writing and Dave's off he'll take her to school so I can crack on - but now I have this dinner lady job I have to walk in the middle of the day come what may - and I think it does me good to get out into a different environment for an hour. I come back to my writing invigorated - well sometimes I'm just too tired but most of the time I feel better!

Good luck with the editing - and yes, you do deserve a prize the hours you put in.

Julie xx

Simon Whaley said...

I like that idea - the Healthy Writer Diet. Consume less negativity and it helps you to shrug off the rejections!

Suzanne Jones said...

Brilliant advice as always, Julie.


Julie P said...

Yes, Simon! Shift that stubborn writing flab for a sleeker, happier writing experience - like Paul McKenna - Instead of I can make you thin it would be I can make you a positive writer!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Suzanne.

Got to keep positive and keep writing and sending our work out there. I printed off my spreadsheet record sheets for articles and shory stories sent out in 2009. Mine are colour coordinated red is for declined work, blue for work pending a result and green for publication! It was hard seeing all that red on the short story sheet. But that little blob of green floating around in the choppy red sea was all the motivation I needed to sort out which of the previously declined stories I'm going to revamp and send out this week.

Julie xx

Olivia Ryan said...

You're absolutely right Julie: we all tend to lose sight sometimes of why we started writing in the first place - because we love doing it. It's hard to be business-like when most writers don't have that kind of head on their shoulders, but it's essential to maintain that attitude if we're trying to be published. You're doing everything right - it's just so much harder than it used to be. You will succeed, I'm sure of it. x

Julie P said...

Thanks for your kind comments and support, Olivia, it means a lot to me.

We have to remember why we started writing in the first place, what our goals were and feel that passion again to carry our writing forward to the next level.

That's why I switch between writing short stories, poems, articles and, more recently, a novel. I find it helps to hold my attention and each of the different forms interact and help me to improve them all.

We are all going to have a fab 2010, I just know it.

Julie xx